Wow. Despite all that’s been happening, I certainly didn’t see this coming.
It’s just been announced that operations at Changi Airport Terminal 2 will be suspended for 18 months starting from 1 May 2020. This allows for savings on operating costs, given the decline in air traffic due to Covid-19, as well as acceleration of the upcoming terminal renovations.
Airlines currently operating out of Terminal 2 will be reallocated across the remaining terminals, with the actual allocation announced closer to 1 May 2020.
|Who currently operates out of Terminal 2?|
Singapore Airlines currently uses Terminal 2 for departures to:
- Sri Lanka
The closure means they’ll consolidate all operations under one roof in Terminal 3. This takes effect from Wednesday, 8 April 2020.
Changi Airport Group has also not ruled out the possibility of also suspending operations at Terminal 4, should demand continue to fall. In their words:
In view of the very small number of flights at Terminal 4 (T4), operations at the terminal have been scaled down considerably with a small number of aircraft boarding gates kept in use and shops allowed to close early after the last flight for the day. If the remaining airlines at T4 choose to suspend or adjust their flight schedule, CAG will also consider suspending operations at T4 temporarily but with the objective of restarting operations quickly when airlines confirm the resumption of flights.
For what it’s worth, the government will also waive the Airport Development Levy (S$10.80) charged on all tickets until the end of March 2021.
What will happen to Terminal 2?
Terminal 2 is actually the oldest of all four terminals right now (the last renovation finished in 2006), and is scheduled to undergo a multi-million dollar facelift with work completed by 2024.
The closure will allow airport authorities to speed up the upgrading works by approximately a year.
Terminal 2’s update will see new check-in areas and more self-service options, with an upgraded baggage handling system to match the ones in the other three terminals. The current capacity of 22 million passengers a year will also be increased by a further 3-5 million.
Will Singapore Airlines return to Terminal 2 at all?
It’s no secret that Terminal 2 has always been a kind of limbo for Singapore Airlines. It’s progressively moved more flights to Terminal 3, and when it announced plans to renovate its Changi lounges last year, the press release was notably silent about the Terminal 2 facilities.
I understand the long-term plan was always to move all operations under one roof at Terminal 5, but with a projected opening date in the 2030s, that’s a heck of a long time to wait. The Covid-19 situation may well be the catalyst for Singapore Airlines to consolidate operations sooner rather than later, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
I’ve never really been blown away by Singapore Airlines’ ground experience at Changi, but the one at Terminal 2 was particularly lacking. The lounge is dark and dated, with none of the trappings or facilities you’d expect from a world-class airline (no individual showers, for example).
Operating out of two different terminals also no doubt created confusion for foreign visitors, as you wouldn’t know which terminal you’d land at until just before arrival. This made it difficult to plan tight connections, especially when flying on separate tickets.
I’m unclear whether Singapore Airlines will move back to Terminal 2 after the 18-month suspension, or whether it will continue operating all flights out of Terminal 3. I really hope it’s the latter though, given the underwhelming experience at Terminal 2.
In March, it was announced that the number of passengers arriving at Changi had fallen more by than 90% since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. That figure has surely declined even more by now, given the ban on short term visitors and transit passengers.
The fact that the authorities have seen fit to close Terminal 2 for a full 18 months suggests the slow pace at which they see the recovery happening. It’s painful to think about, but I know they’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation.
At least we can look forward to a new-and-improved Terminal 2 sooner than expected…
(Cover photo: Today Online)